We're almost there hoops fans.
Yes, Anne Arundel's version of "March madness" is nearly upon us. Just one more week of regular-season play and it will be time for postseason. By this time next week, we will have the playoff pairings and will be ready for some serious basketball.
The playoff picture is shaping up rather nicely, with most of theteams identifiable, if not placed. Seedings are still up in the air,and that only adds suspense to the final week of the regular season,which also might include a North County boys victory.
While many teams will be celebrating qualifying for the playoffs, North County'swinless boys have a chance to win a game tomorrow night at home, when the 0-21 Knights play host to Queen Anne's (8-11) at 7 p.m.
If North County doesn't win, it could be the first time in county historya boys hoops team went winless an entire season. To my knowledge, such a feat never has occurred.
Getting back to the teams whose seasons will continue, Annapolis has clinched the top seed in Class 4A Region IV. Annapolis is 19-1 overall, including Friday's 79-50 romp over Glen Burnie.
Annapolis lost to Cardozzo of D.C., 86-70, in its own Cap City Classic, but Christmas tournament games do not count toward playoff points. Annapolis is 18-0 in games that count for postseason seedings.
The top six teams in each region advance to postseason play, with the top two seeds getting first-round byes and home-court advantage in the regional semifinals.
Who will be No. 2 behind Annapolis is anybody's guess. The week starts with both Meade and Severna Park at 12-6, Broadneck at 10-6, Old Mill at 11-7, Glen Burnie at10-8 and Arundel at 9-9.
The fifth and sixth seeds could go down to tiebreakers.
Meade and Severna Park are the only locks behind Annapolis.
Both Meade and Severna Park play Annapolis this week, with the Mustangs playing host to the Panthers tomorrow night and the Falcons visiting the Cap City Friday. An upset could give either of them the No. 2 seed, provided the team wins its other game.
Old Millvisits Severna Park tomorrow night and Glen Burnie hosts Meade Friday night. Those are must games for Old Mill and Glen Burnie.
Chesapeake, a team that started with a bang but faltered to 7-11 in playoffqualifiers, could be the big spoiler in two key games. Coach Tom Kraning's Cougars host Glen Burnie tomorrow night and Old Mill Friday.
Arundel needs a pair of upsets, but could slip in with just one, a home win tomorrow night over 3A power South River (17-3). Upsetting South River would give Arundel 74 playoff points, and if Glen Burnie loses its final two games with Chesapeake and Meade, what the Wildcatsdo at Broadneck in the final game would not matter.
The Wildcats would take the final seed by one point over Glen Burnie's Gophers.
Winning the final two would put everybody in except for Arundel if Broadneck defeats Southern. Arundel would finish with 82 playoff points in 20 games to 79 points in 19 games for Broadneck, but using the playoff points average (total points divided by total games), the Bruins would take the final seed, 4.15 to 4.10.
Isn't this fun?
Moving on to more clear-cut situations, South River has clinched a berthin Class 3A Region IV, and the Hawks will be anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3 seed.
Southern is in the middle of the pack in Class 2A Region III, and that's it for the boys teams.
In the girls 4A Region IV, things are not quite as complicated as the boys version. We know the six 4A girls teams, but other than No. 1 Old Mill (17-0) and No. 2Broadneck (15-2), we don't know where they will be seeded and won't know until Friday night.
The week starts with Arundel (11-7) as third seed, North County (10-8) fourth, Annapolis (10-8) fifth and Severna Park (9-9) sixth. All sorts of possibilities exist as we begin the final week, but at least those six teams know they are in no matterwhat they do.
Annapolis and Severna Park provide the most interesting stories in this playoff hunt. Their respective coaches deserve asalute for comebacks.
Second year head coach Teresa Ross has taken the Lady Panthers from 5-17 to the playoffs, while the veteran Falcons coach Kevin McGrath has performed his turnaround in the same season.
Severna Park has gone from 2-8 to 9-11, 9-9 in games that count, coming from nowhere to qualify for the playoffs. It's been a difficult season for McGrath, who hasn't had a losing season since 1982, winning 16 games or more six times since then.
McGrath has had to deal with a lot of parental and fan pressure this season, but has gotten through it unscathed.
Things are more defined in Class 2A Region III where Northeast (11-9, 11-7 playoffs) and Southern (12-8, 11-7 playoffs) are locks, and in Class 3A where no one is going.
Northeast and Southern both lost Friday, the former Eagles to Broadneck, 57-33, and the Dawgs to North County, 56-54. With two games to go, the battle continues between the two for top seed.